Ferguson’s Falls Women’s Institute

Ferguson’s Falls Women’s Institute

Ferguson’s Falls WI

Skit depicting the first meeting highlights 50th

By Inez McCoy

The members of Ferguson’s Falls Women’s Institute took their guest back in time as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of their branch last Wednesday night, May 3.

In Ferguson’s Falls Community Hall, where the first meeting took place, members, Mrs. Elwood (Jennie) Halpenny and Mabel (Mrs. Bill Rothwell), who were present and a third charter member, Mrs. Her McFarlane, Perth, who was unable to be present, but sent best wishes. In 50 years and 521 meetings, Mrs. Halpenny attended 413,  Mrs. Horricks, president said.

          A highlight of the program was the skit depicting the first meeting of the branch in 1928, with present members taking the parts of the charter members present at the first meeting. Mrs. John Hollinger played the part of the first president, her mother-in-law, Mrs. Charles Hollinger. The part of the first secretary, Mrs. Allan Ruttle, was taken by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Harvey Ruttle.

          Others taking part in the skit were Mrs. Alphonse Badour as Mrs. Louis Badour; Mrs. Roy McEwen as Mrs. James Closs, Mrs. Henry McFarlane as Mrs. Archie Davidson; Mrs. Tom Ireton as Mrs. Elijah Giles; Mrs. Bob McFarlane as Mrs. James Hickey Sr. and Mrs. Elwood Halpenny playing herself.

Mrs. Elmer Couch took the part of Mrs. Ed Haley; Mrs. Allan McFarlane as Mrs. Herb McFarlane; Mrs. Dawson Horricks as Mrs. Thomas A. Rothwell, Mrs. William G. (Bill) Rothwell as herself; Mrs. Sam Rothwell as Mrs. William J. Rothwell and Mrs. Robert McEwen as Mrs. Michael Gray.

Other parts were taken as follows: Mrs. Reg Warren as Mrs. Findlay Ramsbottom; Mrs. Cecil Henderson as Mrs. Hayes Boyd; Mrs. Thorpe Moulton as Mrs. Margaret Stafford; Mrs. Gordon McEwen as Mrs. Ewen McEwen and Mrs. Art McCall took the part of her mother, Mrs. Alex Sheppard.

First Roll Call

“The roll call for that first meeting 50 years ago, was “Who you are, where do you live, your family, and whatever you want to tell us about Yourself”.   

One lady spoke of “ that new magazine Chatelaine”. When she asked her husband for the money to get a subscription, he didn’t think she needed it. However, she used some of her egg money, and took out a subscription. She thought the short skirts shown were ridiculous, and the new dance was undignified. Another member in the skit demonstrated the new dance, the Charleston.

Reporting on the first District Annual meeting shortly after 1928, Mrs. Halpenny, District Director, said the motto for that meeting was ”The value of the Women’s Institute in the community”. There was an exchange of gifts to the value of 25 cents each.

The motto for the first meeting carried out in the skit was “ Variety is the spice of life”. Mrs. Robert McEwen was responsible for the program for that meeting. Mrs. Henry McFarlane sang two numbers, accompanying herself on the autoharp – Dusk and the Shadows are Falling and Memories.


Mrs. Halpenny played a Minuet on the piano. This was followed a skit, a Pioneer Scene, with Tina Hollinger, as the shy boy friend, calling on Elena McCall, under the watchful eyes of Margaret Henderson, as the grandmother.

Edith Moulton  in her recitation, Mrs. Moulton’s Complaint, played the part of the husband who felt himself neglected and deserted, lamenting on everything including the holes in his socks, while his wife attended the Institute. Everyone joined in singing together “The Institute rally Song”.

Stepdancing was enjoyed, with Wendy Couch, July O’Hearn, Debbie McFarlane, Beverley Moulton and Georgette Crosby taking part. Mrs. Gordon McEwen recited “Fifty years in review” – the story of the 50 years of Ferguson’s Falls Women’s Institute.

Mrs. Dorothy Horricks, president, at the beginning of the program told of the founding of the Women’s Institute Branch, at Stoney Creek, Ontario, in February 1897, by Adelaide Hunter Hoodless. The first convention was held at Guelph sometimes called the Royal City.

She traced the 17 branches in South Lanark, to the Ottawa Area, to the Federated Institutes of Ontario, the federated Institutes of Canada and the Associated Countrywomen of the World. She drew attention to the Institute colours of Royal Blue and gold, the colour scheme used in decorating the Hall.      

An In Memoriam service was conducted by Mrs. Halpenny assisted by Margaret Henderson. One minute’s silence was observed. A card of congratulations from Mrs. Herb McFarlane and a letter of best wishes from the District President, Mrs. Garrett conveying her regrets at not being able to attend were read.

Representatives from other Institute branches present for the celebration expressed good wishes and congratulation. Bringing greetings were members from the following branches McDonald’s Corners, Drummond Centre, Bethel-Maberley, Second Line of Drummond, McIlquhams, Port Elmsley, Innisville, Lanark, Balderson, Fallbrook, Zealand, Harper, Clarendon, Snow road, Mississippi Station, Rideau.

At the end of the program, Mrs. Horricks was presented with a silver charm bracelet with one charm bearing her April birthstone and the other engraved “WI 50th”.

Everyone sang, “For she’s a jolly good fellow”.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
09 May 1938, Mon  •  Page 21

Scoundrels Ruining Ferguson Falls

Rothwell and Sheppard Genealogy Ferguson Falls

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 2– Perth Mill

Business Directory for Ferguson Falls 1866

Once A Ribald River Town, Ferguson’s Falls May Be Dying

The Littlest Church in Ferguson Falls

Thomas Hollinger Ferguson Falls Descendants Obituary

Ferguson’s Falls Never Had Any Falls

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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